The Enigmatic Narration and Deceptive Layers of ‘The Cask of Amontillado’

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“The Cask of Amontillado”, a short fiction story by Edgar Allan Poe, this particular story has a distinctive way of narrating without stating the obvious. Throughout the story readers are left to figure out what the author’s brilliant strategies in narrating the story and how the readers look at the characters are presented in the story. The Cask of Amontillado is a simple story of vengeance from the outside. However, the story takes an ironic way of expressing what’s the story is about and suspenseful scenes throughout the tale.

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Throughout the story readers are left to question “what the true motive beyond the retribution taken on Fortunato?”. The protagonist (Montresor) never revealed the reasons for craving vengeance on Fortunato but by suggesting “The thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as I best could; but when he ventured upon insult, I vowed revenge.’’ (250). we can acknowledge that Montresor has been constantly reminded by Fortunato’s mediocrity for a long time, but he managed to control himself from drowning in anger and wait for the perfect opportunity to strike. Although we find clues on Fortunato’s superiority over Montresor throughout the story, the only thing we know is that Montresor feels such wrath, anger towards Fortunato, and insulted by Fortunato’s action that he wanted to kill and seek a vengeance on whom he considered a friend sometime in the past. But Even though Montresor did not mind the physical pain, his need for seeking revenge comes from the pride Montresor has for himself and Fortunato’s luck of respect concerning his identity and family norms. Montresor’s demand for vengeance suggests what the outcome might be at the end of the story and also give the readers reason not to rely on the narrator, Montresor.

Throughout the story line the narrator establishes a stimulating back story, but a mysterious kind to which extent the readers are left in the dark. Furthermore, Montresor states, “It must be understood, that neither by word nor deed had I given Fortunato cause to doubt my good will.” (250). This quote express Montresor’s agenda and also Fortunato’s unawareness to the clues which the protagonist has planned for him. Montresor is claiming here that although he had endured physical pain and insult, he believes he has hidden his true hatred from Fortunato and also expresses his extraordinary deceptive behavior. This quote also elaborates Montresor’s unforgiving behavior when someone done him wrong. Montresor is a kind of person that does not take things lightly especially the negative ones. This forecasts the story’s ending. As explained above, Montresor does not want Fortunato to suspect or figure out his plans to kill him. For much of the story both the reader and the antagonist are kept in the dark. “I continued, as was my wont, to smile in his face, and he did not perceive that my smile now was at the thought of his immolation” (Montresor 250). Yet again in this line the narrator shows us a sequence of actions taken by Montresor to not get detected and give the impression that the protagonist’s approach is very much pleasant and does not draw any suspicion on his ambitious plans. Basically, the narrator wanted to point out that a smile can be the ultimate weapon in deceiving people from the real truth.

In some parts of the story the narrator shows us that Montresor’s intellectual superiority and an eye for details skill over the Antagonist in the story. At this point in the story, Montresor states, “He had a weak point-this Fortunato-although in other regards he was a man to be respected and even feared. He has prided himself on his connoisseurship in wine” (250); From this quote we get the impression Montresor is going to use Fortunato’s claimed Fine Italian wine knowledge against him and lure him in to the catacombs, eventually to his own demise. Fast forward to the end of the story the narrator wanted to remind us where Montresor’s arrogance, ego, and the lust for revenge plays a significant role in establishing the core scheme of the story. As the narrator argues, “A huge human foot d’or, in a field azure; the foot crushes a serpent rampant whose fangs are imbedded in the heel.” (252). In this one quotation the narrator goes on to explain the significance of the emblem to the story. we find two layered meanings; the first one is the coat of arms, which tells us Montresor background story, that he comes from a noble household, and from a deep rotted family traditions and norms. The second one is that Montresor’s family value retaliation as a justification for any wrong doings done by their enemies. Furthermore, In the words of Montresor, “I must not only punish, but punish with impunity.” (250). Claims, that he wants to kill Fortunato. However, he does not want anyone to suspect or get an idea that he is involved in Fortunato’s murder. And also, he realizes that the only possible scenario where to commit the murder and to never get caught is to punish with impunity. For this reason, he decides to make Fortunato completely vanish without a trace by burying him alive in the walls of the catacombs.

The most significant matter in the story was the carnival, people can dress up to hide their identities and just for that season they can be whomever they wish to be. In the story Montresor is masquerading himself in by “putting mask of black silk, and drawing a roquelaire […]” (Montresor 251). The way the text presented the characters gives the readers the impression that the story is narrated by a character in the story. In this story Montresor, the protagonist is the narrator and the main character at the same time. Based on the evidences stated above, the story can only be narrated from Montresor’s perspective. Because of his excessive desire to blend in with the carnival crowed and to hide his true identity from the general public explains his deceptive behavior and his willingness to commit to his core beliefs. Based on these notions, there is no one best to narrate the story except he Protagonist himself. However, it is often common to find self-conflicting biases when the main character is also the narrator of the story.

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The Enigmatic Narration and Deceptive Layers of 'The Cask of Amontillado'. (2019, Jun 28). Retrieved from